Atheist funerals . . .
Posted: 17 September 2006 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Somewhere I read (possibly in the CFI magazine) that someone was going to put together some suggestions as to how to handle and what to say when an atheist dies—without any mention of religion at all.  Could someone help me on this? 

Also, when I send condolences to someone who’s loved one has died,I would like a more secular statement to make.

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Posted: 18 September 2006 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’ve been thinking about this lately too, for my own funeral (which hopefully won’t be for another 200 years!). In some religions, the funeral is necessary to properly send the deceased to the afterlife. In many others, it’s just a way of organizing our grief and making a spiritual experience out of it. But what is a funeral to an atheist?

In one sense, it makes no difference to me whether my family wants to talk religion at my funeral. I’m dead. There’s no afterlife, no consequence. But as a secular humanist, I have to disagree—My life is my legacy. What I am and what I do in the short time that I’m here is all that I can pass on to future generations. If my life is memorialized in a religious service… well it defeats the purpose.

I’ve already decided on one thing I can do—Have my body donated to science.

Anyway, to answer your question, I would focus my words on remembering the life of the person. Talk about what he/she has accomplished, how he/she has touched your life. Remember them for what they have done. Religion at funerals only acts to relieve grief (‘he/she is in a better place’ and such). If you want to relieve grief, try and talk about how the world is a better place for what he/she has done.

Sure, it takes a little more thought than the typical ‘God bless’ and all, but if you ask me, a little more thought is just what this place needs.

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"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe."
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Posted: 18 September 2006 06:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well said. The important thing to keep in mind is that the funeral is for the mourners.

Also, there are several fine memorial or funereal speeches by Robert Ingersoll—check out The Best of Robert Ingersoll Chapter 2 for some very beautiful and poignant examples.

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Posted: 18 September 2006 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Death is so primitive, so why die?

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Fighting the evil belief that there is a god(s).

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Posted: 22 October 2006 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’d never heard of Ingersoll until I happened upon this thread a day or two ago. Being curious,  I poked around the net and found podcasts of some of his writings. I really like “Improved Man” maybe because I’m so disillusioned with the political situation in this country. Society in general could learn a thing or too.

http://www.podcastalley.com/podcast_details.php?pod_id=33319

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Posted: 22 October 2006 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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[quote author=“T. Ruth”]I’d never heard of Ingersoll until I happened upon this thread a day or two ago. Being curious,  I poked around the net and found podcasts of some of his writings. I really like “Improved Man” maybe because I’m so disillusioned with the political situation in this country. Society in general could learn a thing or too.

Agreed, T. Ruth. I didn’t know about Ingersoll until reading Susan Jacoby’s wonderful book Freethinkers . Having read a bunch of his writings, I must say I very much enjoy his verve and style. Of course, he’s cut from an earlier cloth of orator, late 19th c. rather than 20th c., so there is a certain amount of colorful language that we wouldn’t engage in nowadays, but the honesty shines out nonetheless. Yes, it would be great to have someone of his caliber out giving talks in the small towns ...

Anyhow, much of his writing is available; check Amazon or other stores. Prometheus publishes a number of them, and there’s a recent collection also out by Tim Page. Or check the Wikipedia page I linked to above. Great stuff.

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Posted: 29 October 2006 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’ve been asked to give a eulogy at the memorial service of a few friends over the years.  In each case I chose about three anecdotes that demonstrated the person’s intelligence, ethics and humor/wit.  Then I ended up with something like “______ is like a distant star that has gone out.  Although his light is no longer radiating, it will be shining on us for many years.  He has given each of us a little of his light and it will be with us as long as we live.”

There was no horse manure about going on to a better place or being with loved ones, etc.  I think it’s easy to give a eulogy for someone you’ve loved as a human being without having to even mention any supernatural drivel.

Occam

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Posted: 30 October 2006 02:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Occam
That is a very nice statement to end any funeral with. Good Work
Jim

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Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (MLK Jr.)

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Posted: 30 October 2006 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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You guys should check out the eulogy that Kurt Vonnegut jr’s grandfather, a freethinker, wrote to be read at his own funeral. It’s very well done. I believe it’s in his book"Psalm Sunday”.

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